Genetic Influence on the Peripheral Blood CD4+ T-cell Differentiation Status in CMV Infection

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A latent infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV), a ubiquitous beta herpesvirus, is associated with an accumulation of late-differentiated memory T-cells, often accompanied by a reciprocal reduced frequency of early-differentiated cells (commonly also referred to as "naïve"). However, this impact of CMV on T-cell phenotypes is variable between individuals. Our previous findings in a subgroup of participants in the Leiden familial Longevity Study indicated an important role of genetics. For further testing, we have analyzed middle-aged monozygotic (MZ, n = 42) and dizygotic (DZ, n = 39) twin pairs from the Danish Twin Registry for their T-cell differentiation status, assessed by surface expression of CD27, CD28, CD57, and KLRG-1. We observed a significant intraclass correlation between cotwins of MZ, but not DZ pairs for the differentiation status of CD4(+) and CD8(+) subsets. Classical heritability analysis confirmed a substantial contribution of genetics to the differentiation status of T-cells in CMV infection. The humoral (IgG) response to different CMV antigens also seems to be genetically influenced, suggesting that a similar degree of immune control of the virus in MZ twins might be responsible for their similar T-cell differentiation status. Thus, the way T-cells differentiate in the face of a latent CMV infection, and the parallel humoral responses, both controlling the virus, are genetically influenced.

JournalJournals of Gerontology. Series A: Biological Sciences & Medical Sciences
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1537-1543
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Genetics, Heritability, Humoral responses, Twins